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Embry-Riddle Fleet Ravaged By Tornadoes

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About 60 airplanes were damaged or destroyed when tornadoes tore through the Daytona Beach, Fla., campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Christmas Day. Two tornadoes with winds of about 120 mph tore a 100-foot-wide swath through the center of campus as a line of violent thunderstorms passed across the region. "The maintenance hangar was destroyed and there was damage to a high percentage of the fleet of planes," said a statement posted Christmas night on ERAU's Web site. "There is substantial damage to several buildings on campus, including the administration building, Spruance Hall, and the Student Center. The campus was closed for the holiday, and nobody was hurt. "Thank God," ERAU President John Johnson told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "It's a real blessing it happened when it did. No one was injured." A few students were staying in dormitories, but they were not hit. "The recovery is already under way and every effort is being made to have everything operational when classes resume in January -- including using rental planes for the flight line," ERAU said. The school operates about 85 aircraft. According to an update posted on Wednesday evening, the start of the spring semester has been delayed from Jan. 10 to Jan. 16 to allow more time to clean up and perform building repairs.

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